The Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) in conjunction with Natural England, the English Golf Union and golf’s governing body, The R&A, has awarded Reigate Heath GC accreditation under the English Golf Environmental Certification Scheme.
The award is for clubs showing a commitment and dedication to ecological good practice, and Reigate Heath GC exceeded the targets set to join a select band of clubs in the UK that have achieved this.
The STRI provides an independent ecological and environmental advisory service to golf clubs, enabling clubs to develop and improve the habitat and wildlife value of the golf course for both golf and wildlife. The golf club is also a member of the Reigate Heath Management Steering Committee, run by Reigate & Banstead Borough Council (R&BBC) and includes a number of relevant interest groups.
A rolling Management Plan has been devised by the Committee and the progress of work undertaken such as heather regeneration is monitored annually.
Ailsa Edwards, Chairman of Green at Reigate Heath GC, commented: “As the golf course is the major part of the heath itself, the golf club has been working with the R&BBC and the STRI for many years to maintain the highest standards while working to strict ecological guidelines regarding local grass species, types of sand for the bunkers, tee and green dressings and pathway surfacings, and cutting and clearing regimes.
“Recognition from the UK’s leading ecological bodies makes the efforts of all those involved, from the club to the local conservators and volunteers, very worthwhile.”
Ralph Hobbs, Natural England’s Land Management & Conservation Adviser for the Surrey Hills and Heaths Team, presented the Certificate on behalf of the STRI to the club’s Head Greenkeeper, Derek Walder, accompanied by Club Manager Richard Arnold and Chairman of Green Ailsa Edwards.
In recognition of the club’s effort, Ralph Hobbs went on to say: “This certificate is well deserved. The level of commitment and dedication toward ecological issues expressed at Reigate Heath Golf Club over the past 18 months has been significant and I am very pleased to award the club this certificate.”
Managing heathland correctly is no easy task
Ralph Hobbs concluded: “Lowland heath is an extremely rare and valuable habitat nowadays in the UK, but one which few people realise is the result of being managed by man from the earliest times. Without regular management and clearance of selected areas and trees, heathland rapidly turns back to scrub and woodland, along with the loss of the rare heather habitat.”
“Surrey has lost nearly 85% of its heathland during the 20th century through development or lack of management, and clubs like Reigate Heath GC are helping significantly to ensure the remaining 15% is managed to the benefit of the local flora and fauna, and for everyone to enjoy. Our role at Natural England is to ensure the natural environment is conserved and enhanced for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings.”